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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, and aggravated kidnapping. The court held (1) even if Defendant’s right to confront witnesses under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution was violated when forensic testing results came into evidence without Defendant having the opportunity to cross-examine the laboratory analyst who performed the tests, any such error was harmless; and (2) two out-of-court statements made by third parties were not testimonial and were properly admitted by the trial court as exceptions to the rule against hearsay. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that certain evidence in this action filed under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was improperly admitted and reversing the jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff. After slipping on diesel fuel spilled by a coworker, Plaintiff sued his employer, BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), under FELA. At trial, Plaintiff introduced evidence that the coworker had been disciplined for his conduct. BNSF objected to the evidence, arguing that the discipline was a subsequent remedial measure barred by Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-451. The district court overruled BNSF’s objection. The jury found that BNSF negligently caused Plaintiff’s injuries and awarded $1.72 million in damages. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, concluding that the evidence of the coworker’s discipline was barred by section 60-451. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the disciplinary evidence, which qualified as a subsequent remedial measure was admitted for improper purposes under section 60-451; and (2) the error was not harmless. View "Bullock v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Kansas Legislature intended the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) to be a civil, nonpunitive remedial scheme, and therefore, the retroactive imposition of KORA’s fifteen-year registration period on Appellant, as a drug offender, did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. At the time Appellant committed his qualifying drug offense, KORA required him to register for ten years. Subsequent amendments made to KORA extended Appellant’s registration period to fifteen years. Appellant filed a motion for clarification on the status of his need to register. The district court filed a nunc pro tuna entry of judgment erroneously stating that Appellant’s registration period was for ten years rather than fifteen years. The court of appeals affirmed and remanded the case to the district court to correct the length of registration error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) KORA registration for sex offenders is not punishment, and therefore, retroactive application of KORA”s tolling provision to sex offenders does not violate the Ex Post Fact Clause; and (2) Appellant was subject to the current fifteen-year registration requirement. View "State v. Meredith" on Justia Law

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Registration for sex offenders mandated by the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) does not constitute punishment under the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. When Appellant was convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, KORA required him to register for ten years. Before Appellant’s registration period expired, the Kansas Legislature amended KORA by adding a tolling provision tolling the registration period of an offender who was imprisoned or noncompliant with KORA. During the decade following his conviction, Appellant was noncompliant for at least four years and two months, and therefore, his registration period was extended. During the extended period, Appellant committed two additional offender registration violations and pleaded guilty to the offender registration violations. Appellant later moved to withdraw his plea because he was not required to register at the time of the alleged violations. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that registration pursuant to KORA for sex offenders is not punishment and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion to withdraw his plea. View "State v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ reversal of the judgment of the district court rejecting Defendant’s motion to suppress a gun found on his person during a police patdown, holding that the court of appeals applied the incorrect test to evaluate the reasonable suspicion supporting the frisk of Defendant under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Defendant was charged with criminal carrying of a firearm in the lobby of apartments on the campus of Wichita State University. The trial judge denied the motion to suppress, concluding that the patdown was within the scope of Terry because the officers had reasonable suspicion that Defendant was carrying a gun and thus were entitled to search him to ensure officer safety. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that there was no evidence the officers were actually, subjectively concerned for their safety or the safety of others. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals applied the incorrect test to evaluate reasonable suspicion supporting the Terry frisk of Defendant. The court remanded the case for reconsideration under the correct legal standard. View "State v. Bannon" on Justia Law

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While Defendant was imprisoned for drug offenses, the legislature amended the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) by adding certain drug offenders, such as Defendant, to the list of those required to register. After Defendant was released from prison, he pled no contest to one count of failing to register. The district court subsequently revoked, reinstated, and extended Defendant’s probation multiple times. When the State moved to revoke Defendant’s probation a fourth time, Defendant filed a motion to correct his underlying sentence for failing to register, arguing that because he had not been required to register at the time of his drug conviction, his subsequent sentence was illegal. The court of appeals held that it did not have jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s ex post facto claim because “the definition of an illegal sentence does not include a claim that the sentence violates a constitutional provision.” The Supreme Court affirmed the outcome below, albeit for different reasons, holding (1) according to the court’s decisions in State v. Wood, 393 P.3d 631 (2017), and State v. Reese, 393 P.3d 599 (2017), the lower courts had jurisdiction to hear and consider Defendant’s motion as a motion to correct an illegal sentence; but (2) Defendant’s claim failed on the merits. View "State v. Kilpatrick" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decisions dismissing Appellant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence. The lower courts dismissed Appellant’s motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed the outcome below, albeit for different reasons, holding that, according to the court’s recent decisions in State v. Wood, 393 P.3d 631 (2017), and State v. Reese, 393 P.3d 599 (2017), the lower courts had jurisdiction to hear and consider Appellant’s motion. However, because that motion advanced no meritorious argument demonstrating that Appellant’s sentence was illegal, Appellant’s claim failed on the merits. View "State v. Donaldson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The plain language of Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4508 permits privately retained counsel to pursue funding for certain services through the State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services (BIDS) so long as the defendant is financially unable to obtain investigative, expert, or other services necessary to an adequate defense. Petitioner, who was charged with first-degree murder, moved to be declared, through his retained counsel, partially indigent. The district court judge declared Petitioner partially indigent. When Petitioner presented the new presiding criminal judge of the district court with a request for a transcript, the judge denied the request, concluding that an indigent defendant may only access BIDS for payment of expenses associated with his defense through appointed counsel. The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s petition for writ of mandamus in part and directed the district court to hold an ex parte hearing on Petitioner’s requests for investigative, expert, or other services under section 22-4508 and determine whether those services were necessary to an adequate defense, holding that the judge had a duty, despite Petitioner’s representation by retained counsel, to hold such a hearing. View "Landrum v. Goering" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of premeditated first-degree murder and sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for twenty-five years. The court held (1) the State presented sufficient evidence from which a rational jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Defendant committed premeditated first-degree murder; (2) the prosecutor did not commit reversible error during closing argument; and (3) the district court did not violate Defendant’s right to present a defense by excluding photographs. View "State v. Banks" on Justia Law

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A crane permanently attached to a truck chassis and associated tools do not qualify as cargo under 49 U.S.C. 31101(1), and therefore, the truck does not qualify as a commercial vehicle subject to registration and fee requirements under the federal Unified Carrier Registration Act (UCR). The Kansas Corporation Commission fined Appellant, whose truck was stopped by a highway patrol trooper, for failure to register and pay the fee required by the Act. Appellant requested a hearing to challenge the UCR violation. The Kansas Corporation Commission upheld the fine, concluding that Appellant’s truck was a commercial motor vehicle. The district court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and vacated the fine, holding that the Commission, district judge, and court of appeals erroneously affirmed the fine because Appellant’s crane and tools did not qualify as cargo, and therefore, the truck was not a commercial motor vehicle in Appellant’s fleet. View "Midwest Crane & Rigging, LLC v. Kansas Corp. Commission" on Justia Law